The Rovers Spotlight – 21st November

Welcome to a new weekly feature for Rovers Chat called The Rovers Spotlight.

In this series, I will be covering all topics involving Blackburn Rovers. I would also like you the readers to come up with any ideas on what topics you would like me to include, all requests are welcome and encouraged.

In the second instalment of this new edition, I will be looking at some of the players & some of the history that has shaped Blackburn Rovers as the football club that we know and love today, both good and bad. Without further ado, let’s get the show on the road.

The Formation 

On the 5th November 1875, two men called Arthur Constantine & John Lewis organized a meeting in the St. Leger Hotel on King William Street with the purpose of possibly forming a football club in the town to play under association rules.

A vital importance was the educated middle-class people with the business and commercial knowledge to take advantage of opportunities that were being presented while football was still growing.

Rovers’ first ever game took place on December 11th, 1875 against members of the Church club. The end result was a 1-1 draw.

The Early Years, Robert Middleton & Success 

Three years after forming, Rovers became one of the twenty-three clubs to form the Lancashire Football Association & fourteen months later the club competed in the FA Cup for the first time, beating the Tyne Association 5-1.

In March 1882, Rovers made the FA Cup final for the first time losing out to Old Etonians 1-0.

Two years later the club won the trophy for the first time, the first in three successive cup wins from 1884-1886. Rovers won the competition twice more in 1890 & 1891.

In 1903, Rovers appointed Robert Middleton as manager.

Under the guidance of Middleton, Rovers went on to win the League title twice (1911/12 & 1913/14) and Charity Shield (1912) before the outbreak of the First World War.

Robert Middleton went on to become Rovers’ longest-serving manager for twenty-two years & three months between 1903 & 1925.

The 1965/66 Season 

This season proved to be a season to forget for Rovers. It would also prove to be the start of twenty-six years in the lower divisions as the club was relegated from the old Division One & finished bottom of the table.

Despite a 3-2 home win over Liverpool (the team that would win the division one title) in the third game of the season, the team struggled all season with injuries an loss of form which included an embarrassing League Cup exit by Workington Town, the Cumbrian side triumphed at Ewood 1-5.

Following one win from the final fourteen games, the club finished on twenty points from forty-two matches.

Rovers Legends 

Rovers have had some legendary players grace the Ewood Park turf so this section of the article will get people talking as we all have our favourites & some will not make the list. Here are just five legends who have cemented their place in Rovers history.

Derek Fazackerley

Born just up the road in Preston. Derek Fazackerley would spend most of his career with Rovers which spanned from 1969 until 1987.

During his eighteen year stint, Derek would go on to make the most appearances in the famous Blue & White halves, Faz made 596 league appearances & 671 overall for the club.

Fazackerley was also part of the 1974/75 & 1979/80 squads that won promotion from the old Third Division. and served the club as a coach after his playing days came to an end.

Click here to read our Derek Fazackerley interview.

Bryan Douglas

A local hero & a one-club man for his hometown club in his entire seventeen-year career, Bryan Douglas lived the dream of every Rovers’ supporter.

Douglas served the club from 1952 until 1969, making 503 appearances in all competitions and scoring 115 times. He was also part of the Second Division team that won promotion in 1958 and the 1960 FA Cup final team that went down 3-0 to Wolverhampton Wanderers at Wembley.

On the International scene, Douglas would represent England at international level winning 36 caps.

Very much active today, Bryan still attends games at Ewood and helps out behind the scenes. In 2012, Douglas had a stand renamed after him – the stand was renamed The Bryan Douglas Darwen End.

Ronnie Clayton

Another Rovers player who represented England at international level in the sixties, Ronnie would serve Rovers from 1950 until 1969.

After being rejected by his hometown club Preston North End for being too small, Ronnie signed professionally for Rovers in 1950 and made his debut on the final day of the 1950/51 season at home to Queens Park Rangers.

Like his teammate, the aforementioned Bryan Douglas, Ronnie would be capped thirty-five times for England and was part of the Rovers teams that won promotion to the first division in 1958 & reached the FA Cup final two seasons later.

Overall, Ronnie Clayton made 581 appearances and scored 15 times. In 2010, Ronnie Clayton passed away aged 78. As a mark of respect, a stand was named in his honour two years later – The Ronnie Clayton Blackburn End.

R.I.P. Ronnie.

Simon Garner

168 league goals, 194 goals for Rovers in total. Nobody has surpassed that goal tally set by Rovers all-time top goalscorer, Simon Garner.

Simon began his fourteen-year association with the club in 1978 making his debut away at Newcastle United, the first of his 565 appearances in Rovers colours.

Although he was in a relegation side in his first season as a professional, Simon was influential in getting Rovers back in the second division at the first attempt in the 1979/80 season. Simon was also part of the side that won the Full Members Cup in 1987 and two years later, he became the all-time top goalscorer by scoring against Manchester City in April 1989.

After two failed play-off campaigns, Simon finally helped Rovers achieve their dream of top-flight football as they beat Leicester City 1-0 in the 1992 second division play-off final at Wembley. Garner would depart for West Bromwich Albion shortly after the play-off final victory.

Although now living down south, Simon still occasionally comes down to watch games involving Rovers when he is in the area.

Alan Shearer: While I said nobody has surpassed Simon Garner’s goalscoring record, I also believe Alan Shearer would have broken the all-time goals record & in quicker time if he stayed a few seasons longer at Rovers.

The Geordie native signed from Southampton for a then British transfer record of £3.3 million. That fee was instantly repaid back with a brace on his debut at Selhurst Park as Rovers drew 3-3 with Crystal Palace.

After injury cut short Shearer’s debut season, he returned to the side in the 1993/94 campaign bagging 34 goals as Rovers finished second in the Premier League table. The following season, Shearer bagged 37 goals as Rovers were crowned Premier League Champions. He was also named the PFA Player Of The Year to cap off a memorable 1994/95 campaign.

After another 37 strikes in the 1995/96 season, Alan Shearer was sold to Newcastle United for £15 million.

The Premier League Era and the late, great, Jack Walker.

In January 1991, businessman and Rovers supporter Jack Walker became the owner of the football club with the intention of having Blackburn Rovers becoming one of the top clubs in England.

His first full season saw Kenny Dalglish installed as manager and the arrival of players like Tim Sherwood, Mike Newell and the return of Colin Hendry for a second spell saw Rovers achieve promotion via the playoffs.

Rovers went on to build on their play-off success in the newly formed Premier League finishing fourth, second & as Champions under King Kenny’s tenure & signing big names like Shearer, Chris Sutton, Tim Flowers, David Batty = just to name a few.

Rovers couldn’t build on their title success & suffered relegation just four years later. Rovers won automatic promotion in 2001, a fitting tribute to Jack who passed away just after the 2000/01 season had begun.

Rovers continued to be successful with a Worthington Cup success, European campaigns & semi-final appearances in both domestic Cup competitions.

The present

That was until the club was sold to Venkys. The results of their tenure has seen relegations from the Premier League to League One, attendances have gone down from 23,000 to 12,000, huge debts, our best players sold & no contingency plan to replace them & a lack of communication between club & supporters.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of how we feel about what’s happened in recent years, this club still has a passionate fanbase & care deeply about Rovers.

This football club is steeped in history from humble beginnings, being one of two clubs to win the FA Cup three times in a row, numerous International players plying their trade at Ewood & players becoming legends by giving their all for the club.

The Trophy cabinet isn’t too shabby either with three league titles, six FA Cups, 1 League Cup, 1 FA Youth Cup, 1 second division title, one third division title, 1 Full Members Cup & 1 Charity/Community Shield.

This is a proud club with a rich 142-year history & hopefully, more good memories can be created in the next few years, until next week.

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